Natalie Aviles

Sociology & Science Studies

Cancer Research in Situ: A Pragmatic Event-Based Theory of Organizational Culture at the National Cancer Institute

In my dissertation, I apply insights from sociological theorists inspired by American pragmatism to extend process theories of organization, developing a framework for analyzing the importance of organizational culture to virus-cancer research in the US National Cancer Institute. I construct a single-case temporal comparison of two historical periods to show how local cultural idioms emergent from ongoing organizational practices help explain the shape of biomedical knowledge (by enabling stable interpretations of which viruses were most promising for study in the 1960s and 1970s), and technology (by shaping the possibilities for producing HPV vaccines in the 1990s and 2000s). My work contributes to the literature on cultural sociology and sociological theory by offering a coherent theoretical framework that builds upon pragmatist social theory and event-based theories of organization, while also addressing a notable lacuna in social studies of science, technology, and medicine related to the role of organizations in biomedical knowledge production.

A. Cachia

Amanda Cachia

Art History, Theory, & Criticism

Amanda Cachia is  an independent curator from Sydney, Australia and is currently a PhD Candidate in Art History, Theory & Criticism at the University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation will focus on the intersection of disability and contemporary art. She is the 2014 recipient of the Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies, issued by the Society for Disability Studies (SDS). Cachia completed her second Masters degree in Visual & Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco in 2012, and received her first Masters in Creative Curating from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2001. Cachia held the position Director/Curator of the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada from 2007-2010, and has curated approximately 30 exhibitions over the last ten years in various cities across the USA, England, Australia and Canada. Her critical writing has been published in numerous exhibition catalogs and art journals.

She has lectured and participated in numerous international and national conferences and related events within the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and the Middle East, and has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works grant and Canada Council for the Arts. Cachia is a dwarf activist and has been the Chair of the Dwarf Artists Coalition for the Little People of America (LPA) since 2007. She also serves on the College Art Association’s (CAA) Committee on Diversity Practices (2014-2017).

For more information, visit


Ivana Guarrasi

Ivana Guarrasi

Communication & Science Studies

Realistic simulation of the patient: designing and using human models
in medical and nursing education

My dissertation project critically examines the design and use of human
models in medicine that aim to realistically simulate patients for
educational purposes. I examine how human models and their use in medical
simulations embody standards of clinical skills training and bedside
care. I analyze the current shift from non-human mannequins to the
standardized patient model of medical simulation in a medical and nursing
school that mimics a clinical setting. Standardized patients are
performers trained to portray a patient with a disease.

Lisa Ho

Lisa Ho

Ethnic Studies

Cold War’s Final Frontier: The Politicization of North Korea in U.S. Political Culture

Lisa Ho is a PhD Candidate in the Ethnic Studies Department. Her research interests include transnational Asian American Studies, Critical Refugee Studies, and Critical Human Geography. Her dissertation examines the ways in which North Korea has been politicized in U.S. political culture beginning in the Cold war to the War on Terror. I am interested in how North Korea has become a transnational site of ideological labor for competing political projects that emphasize the complex nature of the region’s political utility. I use the theoretical and conceptual interventions of Asian American Studies, Comparative Ethnic Studies, and Cultural Studies to explicate why exactly North Korea has maintained such a long and significant presence in U.S. political discourse.

Lisa received her MA in Asian American Studies at UCLA. She completed her undergraduate education in Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies at Cal State Fullerton. She spends whatever free time she does have watching TV with her dog, Jackie.

Mark Kelley


Sentimental Seamen and Pirates of Sympathy: Or, On American Transoceanic Domesticity, 1791-1869

Mark Kelley is a Ph.D. candidate in literature and the managing editor for the Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies. His research interests in early American women writers, maritime culture, and affect shape his ongoing dissertation, entitled “Sentimental Seamen and Pirates of Sympathy: Or, On American Transoceanic Domesticity, 1791-1869.” This work analyzes how both men and women mobilized discourses of sympathy to assert individual, national, and imperial sovereignty in transoceanic space. In the process, it challenges constructed generic, geographic, and gendered boundaries surrounding antebellum “domestic” spaces and narratives. Mark has received fellowships from the Peabody Essex Museum and Mystic Seaport Museum.

Mary Klann

Mary Klann


Citizens with Reservations: Race, Colonialism, and Native American Citizenship in the WWII-Era American West

My research focuses on the racialized and gendered construction of Native American citizenship in the mid-twentieth century American West, examining how Native people experienced the WWII-era expansion of the American state. With a consideration of ongoing US settler colonialism, I examine the scope and impact of World War II on life on Indian reservations in the Southwest, analyzing the ambiguous rhetoric of policymakers attempting to define the place for Native people in the American polity during this era. Furthermore, I focus on the ways in which Native Americans utilized their American citizenship in order to gain access to resources they were entitled to under the Social Security Act, the GI Bill, and the Servicemen’s Dependents Allowance Act, despite perceptions held by politicians, policy makers, and the public which relegated them to the status of “wards.”

A. Lackner Price

Audrey Lackner Price


The Middle Road to Change: The Role of Mathematics in Jesuit Schools

My research examines the development of the mathematics curriculum in Jesuit schools during the second half of the sixteenth century.  I ask how the Jesuits positioned themselves in debates surrounding mathematics education.  What place did they give mathematics in the hierarchy of disciplines, and what purpose was a mathematics education supposed to serve?  My research is based on a variety of mathematics textbooks written during this time period.  I am comparing the works of Christopher Clavius, the professor of mathematics at the Jesuits’ Collegio Romano, to Latin and vernacular texts on similar topics to understand how Clavius used differing mathematics education practices to develop his own curriculum.  Latin mathematics education was still largely based on the medieval quadrivium, and the field was seen as training for study in the higher faculties, especially theology.  On the other hand, vernacular education focused on practical mathematical skills and was intended as job training.  By comparing Clavius’s works to both Latin and vernacular texts I will show how he positioned mathematics in Jesuit schools both as a noble tool for the advancement of theology and as a practical study for use in daily affairs.  Despite the fact that the formal curriculum favored the branches of mathematics that could assist theology (geometry and astronomy), historians of Jesuit mathematics education have shown that Jesuit mathematics teachers, in keeping with the trends of the seventeenth century, ultimately favored the practical side of mathematics and taught a variety of branches of mixed mathematics, such as geodesy and hydrography.  By taking the middle road between the nobility and the utility of mathematics, the text-based curriculum developed by Clavius allowed the Jesuits to recognize both purposes of mathematics and shift their own uses of the subject over time according to the changing beliefs of future centuries.

Salavdor Zarate

Salvador Zarate

Ethnic Studies

Engendering Life: Race and Gender in Domestic and Gardening Labor in Orange County

Salvador Zárate is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. Zárate’s work engages the relational racial and gender histories of domestic and gardening labor in Southern California– with an emphasis on the county of Orange. The dissertation draws on labor organizing with domestic workers, as well as personal family experience within the ethnic niche economies of gardening work. The dissertation argues that the current day devaluation of reproductive labor, as well as the devaluation of the laborers that work within these service sectors, is tied to the social and legal exclusion, particularly of Mexican and Asian migrants at the turn of the twentieth century. Zárate interrogates the ways migrants continue to be excluded from social and political life within the U.S. even as their labor is contradictorily captured into what has historically been Black unfree labor.